Library Journal approached someone who apparently knows that person (or group of persons) blogging as The Annoyed Librarian and offered to host (and pay!) AL’s thoughts. And so it was said, and so it was.
That appears to have discombobulated some folks. I’m not entirely sure why–but I read the comments in various spaces, thought about it, and eventually added a comment to David Lee King’s post on the subject.
Here’s a somewhat expanded set of notes on what’s really not a very important topic (“So what else is new at Walt at Random?” I hear sensible folks saying)…
First comes envy
Oh, c’mon. Whoever (or whatever, or whatever group) puts out Annoyed Librarian has a paying gig. And if the persona is to believed at all, she/he/they also ha(s|ve) a safe daytime job. Sitting here with a, shall we say, modest part-time income, how could I not be a little envious?
Would I accept an offer to host and pay for the stuff that appears here? Such an offer seems unlikely, so it’s more-or-less moot. I would love to have the kind of sponsorship that would include the research I love doing in the library field (so that, for example, I could comfortably give away The Liblog Landscape and do a newer and better version of my two library-blog studies), but that also seems unlikely. Such is life.
Then comes bemusement
Looking at various comments, here’s some of what I see that is a little bemusing:
- One person believes that a blog that began in February 2006 disappeared â€œyears ago,â€ which would be quite a trick.
- A few people seem to question the practices of 18% of library-related bloggers (among the 607 in the study Iâ€™m working on), that is, not disclosing their full names on their blogs.
- A bunch of people donâ€™t distinguish between pseudonymity and anonymity. Theyâ€™re not the same thing. Pseudonymity for controversial statements has a long history, and was certainly part of the American revolution.
- Of course, pseudonymous and anonymous statements do not gain any gravitas from the person making them (except to the extent that a pseudonymous writer establishes it through the words themselves). Does that make the words useless? No–it makes them different. There are bloggers whose work I admire and where I really have no idea whether the claimed name is real or who the person is.
- Someone assumes that AL is actually a group effort because there’s so much of it. Really? In my 2008 study period (March-May 2008), looking at overall word count and omitting some very prolific blogs that can’t be measured, Annoyed Librarian comes in at #78–and only 16 of the 77 liblogs with more text during that period are group blogs, so AL comes in #62 of (presumably) single-author blogs. Heck, I wrote more during that period than AL did–and that’s just in the blog, quite apart from three columns and three issues of Cites & Insights during that period (and my work-related writing, to be sure). So, for example, did Iris Jastram, John Miedema, Connie Crosby, Karen Schneider, Angel Rivera (in his “Gypsy” persona), Wayne Bivens-Tatum, Dorothea Salo, Stephen Abram, John Dupuis, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Doug Johnson… If you prefer length per post, at least 17 single-author blogs averaged longer posts.
- I’m not saying AL couldn’t be a group–I have no more idea who or what she/he/it/they might be than you do–but post frequency (AL wasn’t even in the top 40% of liblogs for number of posts) and length of posts certainly don’t suggest it. The consistent style (more or less) argues against a group.
- One of AL’s fans claims that AL gets “hundreds” of comments per post. Not true–although in the 2008 study period AL did have the most posts per comment (not true in 2007). The average for March-May 2008 was 53 comments per post–a lot, to be sure, but hardly “hundreds.”
Finally come random comments
Seems to me that if you donâ€™t find ALâ€™s stuff worth reading, thereâ€™s an easy solution, whether itâ€™s on LJâ€™s platform or elsewhere. Donâ€™t read it. (LJâ€™s platform mostly makes it more difficult to follow the blog and comments; thatâ€™s a different problem.)
I certainly donâ€™t believe that being on LJâ€™s platform gives posts added weight. That would be akin to believing LJ Movers & Shakers were actually more important than anyone else and deserving of deference. (I donâ€™t believe that either. There are lots of great people in that group, but also lots of great people who won’t ever be named. There are also lots of good people with truly insightful comments on certain topics–and maybe I treasure them even more.)
I disagree with AL on lots of things (for example, the OIF and Washington Office are two big reasons Iâ€™m still an ALA member). I couldnâ€™t write in the style they/he/she it uses. For that matter, I donâ€™t think I could or would write anonymously/pseudonymouslyâ€¦my so-called style is a little too distinctive. But Iâ€™m not ready to put down AL or others because they choose to do so.
If the content stinks to your particular nose, thatâ€™s differentâ€“and then you should simply ignore it. Isnâ€™t that the best advice in general?
Jeff Scott adds different and useful perspectives on this issue non-issue at Gather No Dust. (We do all know that AL’s 30th floor office is as real as the 25th floor penthouse at the Googleplex in which I craft Walt at Random, right?)